There has already been plenty of new and exciting tech on display
at Pond Beaver this year but we're definitely missing the eccentrics. The bevvy of small-scale manufacturers that patrol every trade show with a dream and a prayer looking to get their latest innovation in front of the cycling world. These unique passion projects can often be the stars of the show and, while they may never achieve the biggest success, anyone who is putting themselves out there to create something out of left-field is doing it right in our books. Here are five of our favourite Sea Otter mavericks:
RAM BIke's URT Chassis with a Linkage Fork
Richard Sheppard is 6'6" and tips the scales at nearly 290 lbs so it's no surprise he struggles to find a mainstream bike that suits his needs. To remedy that, he instead decided to build himself something totally unique and this 180mm travel, URT, singlespeed full suspension with a linkage fork is the result.
The focus for this bike was to make it as efficient as possible so he went with a URT design. URT stands for Unified Rear Triangle and it had a short and turbulent cameo in the mainstream thanks to bikes such as the Klein Mantra. If you're interested in the intricacies of the design, you can read RC's deep dive here
but the main advantage is that there's no pedal bob when a rider is attacking out of the saddle. Not only does this make for a bike that's lightning-fast under power but it also means that it can be run singlespeed without a chain tensioner. Although we wouldn't be telling the whole story if we didn't mention the descending drawbacks too...
The linkage fork is inspired by a moto design by Valentino Ribi and it uses a four-bar linkage to create a nearly straight axle path, similar to a telescoping design but with much less stiction. Down below the fork is a massively wide front hub that is actually two Azonic hubs cut down and joined at the center so Sheppard could use two disc brakes to help with temperature management. This thing is wild!
Although Richard considers frame building as a hobby, a steady stream of like-minded customers may eventually force him to take up the TIG torch full time. For more info on the bike, click here
Speedfil's Bike-Mounted Hydration System
Hydration backpacks have all but disappeared from riders' kit bags in recent years but are we missing a trick not transferring those dangling hoses to our frame-mounted bottles instead?
That's exactly what Speedfil thinks and it has designed its F2 bottle to make it a reality. Initially inspired by racers who would try to glug down as much liquid as possible at a feed station before tossing a bottle away, this system allows riders to fill up their bidon without stopping and drink it as and when they need.
(Clockwise) Speedfil's F2 bottle requires a sturdy cage. Use any water bottle to refill the F2 system through the self-sealing port. The F2 head screws onto most cycling bottles and an O-ring seal prevents leaking. Speedfil F2's bite-valve is attached to a recoil return-string to secure it to the bar
The cap sits on top of any standard bottle to add 8oz of volume and a self-sealing port through which the bottle can be filled. The lid also features a hose that routes up to the handlebar and can be used to drink the water without sitting up. The nozzle is attached to the bars by a spool so it returns to its place out of the way after use.
Speedfil is apparently a well-known name in the triathlon world where bottles like this are common but they haven't yet taken off in mtb in the six years since we first saw them
. More info, here
A Regenerative Braking eMTB
Free agent @heimbilt had this regenerative braking mid-drive drivetrain at the show in 2019. He says it has a 30% charge recovery compared to the 2-6% usually seen on hub motors.
Ophidian Bicycles 2 Wheel Drive Bike
The best performing off-road cars are all AWD so why can't the same be true for bikes? Ophidian was founded in June 2009 with the aim of creating a 2x2 bike and we saw the result of their labors at the show in 2011. The main advantage touted by its designers is that it will boost your climbing performance as both wheels are capable of putting down power, however, we're not sure how much of that advantage would be counteracted by the extra weight.
Unfortunately, the company seems to have folded now but other brands have taken up the all-wheel drive mantle in recent years such as Double
. Maybe one day the idea will stick...
Adaptrac's Traction Control for Mountain Bikes
If you like a clean cockpit, look away now. Adaptrac's adjustable traction control for mountain bikes adds a whole rat king to your bars to operate its complex but intriguing system. The basic premise is that a cannister of gas in your bottle cage is used to raise and lower your tyre pressures using a handlebar mounted remote. Adaptrac says, "Need more traction on a downhill slope? Press a toggle and drop the pressure to 25 psi. Another quick press and you’re back up to 55 psi for the next climb! Handlebar-mounted gauges give visual status of tire pressure at all times."
The system comprises of two patent pending hubs (or complete wheel sets), a CO2 tank, guages, handlebar controls and about 3 miles worth of cable. The complete kit costs $1,470 including a choice of 26" or 29" wheels. More info, here